January 16, 1997 in Idaho

Woman Shot When Her Gun Fires In Purse Inexpensive Pistol Accidentally Goes Off While She’s Inside Grocery Store

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A woman was shot in the back Tuesday when an inexpensive, .25-caliber pistol went off inside her purse.

Barbara Friend, 34, was listed in fair condition at Kootenai Medical Center’s intensive care unit Wednesday. The bullet nicked one of her lungs and lodged inside her chest.

“I was so scared. I thought she was going to die in my arms,” said her husband, Paul Friend. He operates the Idaho News Observer, a Wallace-based weekly newspaper.

The pistol fired inside an Excel Foods store about 9 p.m. Barbara Friend had forgotten to bring her purse inside, Paul Friend said. She asked him to get it from the car. He did, then set it down on the counter. After he set the purse there, the gun went off.

“It has to be the most bizarre accident I’ve ever heard of,” the exhausted publisher said, after being awake for more than 30 hours.

He said the gun was “what’s commonly called a Saturday night special.” The handgun had jammed in the past, but had never fired on its own, Paul Friend said.

Barbara Friend will receive a citation for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, Wallace Police Chief Scott TenEyck said. Police wanted to wait until she felt better, he said.

“I feel sorry (for her),” TenEyck said. “But it could have been worse.”

Barbara Friend carried the pistol in her purse because the couple had received threats from readers angered by stories printed in the News Observer.

The couple also enjoys spending time in the woods, Paul Friend said.

“Sometimes you get varmints chasing you, and you want to pop ‘em,” he said.

Barbara Friend was able to speak and appeared to be in good condition once she was treated for pain, Paul Friend said.

Once medicated, she worried aloud, “The other paper’s gonna beat us on this story,” referring to a Kellogg-based daily.

“That was the first thing she said after the Demerol hit her,” her husband said.

Paul Friend said the accident changed his opinion of the availability of cheap firearms.

“Maybe there’s some good in this, a silver lining,” he said.

He’s still against most gun control, but wants to see poorly made weapons outlawed.

“I’m gonna go on a tirade that’s not gonna end until they ban those,” he said.

, DataTimes


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